This commission was for a client wishing to celebrate his parents Ruby anniversary. He initially was interested in a comic strip which would have changed the final piece from a stand alone piece of art to a short story book.
After discussion, we decided to have the best of both worlds and go for a timeline instead. Like a comic strip, there are different panels, but like a storybook, each panel would represent a different part of their life, rather than as a comic where there are speech bubbles and each panel directly follows on from the next.
Each of the panels of the timeline would feature an important part of his parents’ lives.
The first panel shows when his parents first met when they were young. Originally, the plan was for each panel to have caption under the bottom, but due to space limitations, we decided to truncate the captions to a few words and like in comic books, have the words in a caption box strategically placed somewhere on the panel itself.
The second panel showed their marriage. Using reference photos, I was able to reposition the parents closer when drawing and alter poses to fit the panel.
For the third panel, there were many elements the client wanted me to include. However, this would have meant that the panel would be very overcrowded. As a panel summarising the holidays from the early days of their marriage, I was supposed to fit a rubber dinghy in there as a memory of certain trips. However, this had to be left out and sometimes…less is more!
I started drawing each panel in blue pencil rather than normal pencil. It’s easier to ink directly over the pencils and to manipulate digitally when completed. I thought I’d show this panel so you can see the original pencil lines.
For the fourth picture, this was a simple square spilt of their children.
The fifth panel showed the boys surfing. Originally not all the brothers were in the original photo I referenced for the top half, but I managed to draw him in, using other pictures of the time.
The last panel shows a family celebration of the actual Ruby anniversary party, which I thought was a fitting way to end the timeline, being the most recent family event. Especially as kids grow up they find their own way in life and make families of their own, it felt right to have a reunion of all the main family members, old and young, together.
I placed the parents (now grandparents) at the top, their kids in the middle, who are now parents, and then their children at the bottom, so there is a linear age progression from the top to the bottom of the panel.
The final piece was presented as a poster as seen above. There was also the option of producing a concertina-like card. The client told me his parents were emotional (in a happy way!) and shed a tear after being presented this one-off bespoke piece of art designed for them of their lives over the years.
All in all, everyone was satisfied and I loved getting to know someone’s lifetime history. Every time I take on a commission, I always find it interesting to see what it is that matters to people.